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Careem Just Closed a $500 Million Round and Is Now Valued At $1.2 Billion

The MENA ridesharing giant has just raised a series E round led by Saudi-based VC Kingdom Holding.

Dubai-based ridesharing unicorn Careem has just closed out a $500 million series E funding round, bringing its current valuation to over $1.2 billion. The latest investments are led by Kingdom Holding, a Saudi-based venture capital firm owned by billionaire Prince Alwaleed bin Talal. This current round of was initially announced back in December, when the ridesharing company raised a $350 million tranche, led by Saudi Telecom Company and Japanese e-commerce firm Rakuten. The latter has also invested in Uber rivals Lyft and Cabify. Careem is the region’s biggest competitor to Uber, which took a $3.5 billion investment from Saudi Arabia’s Public Investment Fund last June.

Careem’s co-founder and CEO, Mudassir Sheikha, confirmed in a TV interview with Bloomberg that the company could potentially be selling shares to the public by 2019.

The transportation giant has also pledged to create over one million jobs throughout its 11-country market across the Middle East. The company currently boasts a fleet over 250,000 “captains” in 53 cities, and has a clientele of well over four million registered users. Because many of its users prefer cash over card, Careem has an in-app wallet feature, which solves the problem of drivers not always having change on hand.

Tech startup funding in the Gulf has been heating up recently; in late May, Saudi Telecom Company announced the formation of Saudi Technology Ventures, a $500 million fund for tech investment in MENA.

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